Guy Cameron

PhD, Bbiomedsci(hons), Bmedsci

Indigenous school student STEM engagement

May 07, 2024

Today I had the unique opportunity to be a part of an enriching engagement event designed specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from years 10 to 12. Held at the University of Newcastle, this initiative aimed to open the world of STEM—particularly biomedical sciences and pharmacy—to these young, eager minds, fostering their interest and participation in fields where we are typically underrepresented.
The event took place in Awabakal Country, a significant locale that underscores the deep cultural heritage of the region. I found myself among an enthusiastic team from the School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, and the Wollotuka Institute, a place where Indigenous education is nurtured and celebrated. Here, the students not only toured the university campus but also experienced firsthand the dynamic and engaging university life.

A highlight of the day was the practical sessions we organised. In a room bustling with curiosity, students learned to pack medications into Webster-paks—a crucial pharmacy skill—and had the opportunity to explore human anatomy through both plastic models and real organ specimens, displaying various pathologies. These activities were designed not just to educate but to stimulate a sense of wonder and inquiry about the human body and medical science.

For me, the most captivating part of the day was the microscopy session. Here, I had the privilege of guiding these bright young students through the intricate world of microscopes. We peered into the microscopic realms of different organs, tissues, and cells, unveiling a hidden world of biological wonders. The intensity of their focus and their awed reactions to the slides were truly memorable.

Speaking to the students, I shared insights into the microscopic analysis and its pivotal role in both research and clinical diagnostics. It was a moment of full-circle reflection for me—recounting my journey in immunology and microbiology, and now contributing to a pathway that might inspire these students to embark on their own scientific adventures.

The day concluded with a sense of accomplishment and hope. The enthusiastic feedback from the students and the continuous support of the Newcastle University and the Wollotuka Institute reinforced the significance of such initiatives. They not only provide a platform for learning and discovery but also play a critical role in encouraging Indigenous students to envision themselves as future scientists, researchers, and healthcare professionals.

This event was a reminder of the importance of community engagement in education and the powerful impact of providing practical, hands-on experiences to students.  As I continue my work and advocacy for broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in STEM, I am reminded of the potential that such engagement holds in shaping the future of science and medicine in Australia.


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